We Have Work to Do
We are precipitously coming to a point where the Federal Reserve and the federal government have exhausted their capabilities to properly aid states most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Federal Reserve has put our currency in a vulnerable situation by decreasing interest rates. This has a direct effect on the market. The stock market is sensitive to the expectation of stability and growth. Trade negotiations with China are currently indeterminate. The immediate need is to get tens of millions of people back to work. Each state needs to take responsibility to make it easier for employers to hire. The precondition for healthy progress is deregulation.
On March 6th Congress spent $8.3 billion in emergency funding. Congress then spent $100 billion on provisions for paid sick leave and testing on March 18th. Congress then passed the CARES Act to spend $2.2 trillion dollars to support non-profits and government programs on March 27th. Then again on April 2nd, Congress added another $484 billion to assist small businesses to obtain loans in order to keep their employees on their payrolls. Somehow, they managed to miss that need in the previous bill. Once Congress reconvenes, they are planning yet another relief bill.
There is not much more the federal government can do without compounding the problem of spending. In 2007, Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac floated $300 billion worth of subprime loans. As reported in October 2019, the amount of high-risk mortgages had increased to thirty-three percent more than before the housing crisis. On March 12th, the Federal Reserve lowered its interest rates to zero. The reality is that interest rates will eventually go back up. The pressure to inflate our currency is inevitable. What the United States government has done, and intends to do, is quite enough.
The market knows hope when it sees it. In 2017, President Trump followed the example of President Calvin Coolidge in having one the highest economic rises within a year of his administration. He presented a plan to decrease the corporate tax between fifteen and twenty-two percent. He also hoped to deregulate industry restrictions concerning environmental, trade, and labor regulations by seventy-five percent. The market responded by blowing past 21,000 points for the first time in history. On March 24th, the Dow Jones jumped 2,100 points following President Donald Trump’s announcing his administration was working with Congress to reach an agreement on an urgent relief bill that was targeted to assist small and large businesses that have been severely affected. Unfortunately, Congress was unable to partner with his vision to keep tax cuts permanent for the middle class as well as lowering our corporate taxes to fifteen percent in order to make the United States highly competitive with our European allies.
In December of last year, we were in the middle of a vigorous negotiation with China. The market responded positively as talks progressed. Implementation of phase one in the trade agreement was to begin in April. Within the agreement, China promised to maintain the value of its currency. It is questionable whether China is still willing to keep to those terms. Recently, the United States chose to either move our production of bulk medical supplies and medications back home or relocate to India. These actions will continue to complicate our trade relationship with China.
When it comes to the twenty-six million unemployed workers, the necessity to open the labor market rapidly and safely is imperative. Last year we had six million jobs waiting for the labor force to fill them. Now, in order to refill the twenty-six million jobs lost, we will need one major directional policy change: deregulation. Last week, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo stated that if someone needed a job they could “go get a job as an essential worker.” In order to make his claim practical, Cuomo would need to suspend state and county constraints that restrict employers from hiring. It highly unlikely that Cuomo is prepared to implement what his community desperately needs.
The concept of depending on the federal government has reached its limit. Governors in each state need to consider the possibility of suspending many environmental, labor, and corporate regulations that may prevent remaining businesses from hiring back their furloughed workforce as well as hiring new staff. Being able to accept workers with out-of-state certifications used to qualify them would greatly improve an individual’s ability to find immediate employment. Individual states need to rely on each other and plan with surrounding states.
As President Trump stated in early March, “We had some very old and obsolete rules that we had to live with… We’re breaking them down now. And they’re very usable for certain instances, but not for this.” For example, the relaxation of HIPAA, EPA, and Medicare/Medicaid restrictions allowed for a needed increase in production of drugs and devices to combat COVID-19. We need to look at a broader application of lifting restrictions in order to further stimulate the economy. There are concerns that people will abuse a relaxed economic environment. Our vigilant Attorney General William Barr has declared that he will prosecute violators of civil liberties and market malpractice.
Discovering where the Federal government may have gone wrong in preventing the spread of COVID-19 is not the highest priority. The American people are more interested in how we may be able to begin regaining lost ground. History is fixed, but the future is shifting. The United States government needs to allow us to help ourselves.